Hands On

When we were kids, “Reach Out and Touch Someone” was a catch phrase for a telephone company, when, ironically enough, physical contact could not be achieved. My mom, sister, and I used to tear up at the holidays during those commercials, with grandma on one end of the phone telling a grandchild to wrap herself up in a big hug and squeeze.

I’m not sure what event transpired to make the company give up their catch phrase (it’s actually NOT something I necessarily want to know about, if you get my gist), but the power of touch, not metaphorically, but literally, is a tremendous thing.

I grew up with a lot of family time together, which included back scratches and massages. We’d get the Vaseline lotion out and scratch each others’ backs until they were bright red (my husband is shocked at how hard we like to be scratched), then slather on some lotion and finish up by drawing shapes on our backs and seeing if the person that was the canvas could guess what we were drawing.

I’ve done the same thing with Max and my husband, with less scratching pressure, but Vaseline is usually replaced with a massage oil or butter, and the massage has become a central feature of the experience. Massage has always been soothing to me, a way to repair tissue to my husband, and a funny experience for Max. I think it’s interesting that it can be three very different things, but then again, these are three very different people.

Holly and I signed up for an Infant Massage Series that began last week. The instructor told us that some massage techniques can be relaxing, while others can be invigorating, so pace and how we interacted with our infants was really important, depending on the message we wanted to send. I know that physical contact alone sends a very powerful message. When I was waitressing in college, I read a study indicating that waitresses that touched their patrons, even very subtly or passively like on the hand or shoulder, earned more tips and created more of a sense of satisfaction in the patrons, than if no touching had occurred. I’ve gotten the same message from my students – those that get “high fives” or a pat on the back seem to be more engaged and content in my classes (though I must admit to refraining a lot from physical contact, as a way to avoid germs and for fear of making students uncomfortable). Hand in Hand is a Palo Alto Nonprofit that uses physical contact to improve parenting (also partners for our Family Fun Day on October 2nd – HandInHandParenting.org). Max’s swim instructors at DACA use physical contact to soothe, train, reward, and keep the kids engaged and on task.

When Holly gets a massage, I wonder what she’s associating it with. She has sunk into her cushion after a massage, just like I prefer to, and gone to sleep. She has laughed and cooed with a sparkle in her eye, like she’s ready for more of this game, like Max tends to. And, as her daddy experiences, I know there’s some physical therapy there for those tissues that are constantly growing and expanding, stretching her tiny frame millimeter by millimeter, every day.

This last weekend, we camped for three days and two nights with tons of other families for Stroller Hikes’ 4th Annual Camping Trip. It was wonderful seeing so many kids having a grand time at the creek, in the dirt and sand, playing with critters, getting excited about a tree house, hiking, and enjoying the fire. I enjoyed stirring my cauldron of oatmeal, then seeing some seventy people gobble it up, getting to know many people better, and just hanging out beneath the Eucalyptus, Redwood, Douglas Fir, and Oak Trees at the ranch. An extra huge THANKS to the Letonas for hosting and being so generous to share their ranch (with tons of apples to take home, to boot)!

The camping trip helped Stroller Hikes raise $325, which will help us continue to offer free events and information to growing families all over the Bay Area. Money funds webpage hosting and development, marketing, first aid kits, interns (that received small stipends this year), and teaching tools. You’ll start seeing those tools soon enough – we have magnification glasses and boxes for hikes and treks, and have scheduled some classes at Sports Basement to encourage families to get outside. One goal was to encourage kids to touch their worlds a little more when out at one of our events, empowering parents with tools to model this behavior, and building more of an experience for families to share. We hope you can come out for a Stroller Hikes event soon, or visit StrollerHikes.com and plan one of your own hands-on experiences in nature today!

Also kudos to those folks who have gotten their hands dirty today and plan to help out next week with silk screening – if you wanted to learn about the process and help out, we’re printing on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday next week in the afternoons. E-mail admin@strollerhikes.com for more information.

Here are this week’s events:

Saturday, September 11th from 7 am to the afternoon come out for the 5th annual Ridge Trail Cruz, a celebration of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, with the event occurring in Saratoga Gap, Long Ridge, Russian Ridge, and Skyline Parks. This event is run by the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council, a nonprofit dedicated to maintaining and expanding the Bay Trail that circles the San Francisco Bay, from ridgeline to ridgeline. Come hike, run, mountain bike, ride a horse, or/and explore the trails and pond. Family hikes start at 10, and Stroller Hikes will be there to lead one! Registration is required to attend. A light breakfast will be provided for early birds, and lunch will be provided. See RidgeTrail.org’s website (RidgeTrail.org) for more information.

Monday, September 13th at 7:45 am join Debbie and her two wee ones for a run along Stevens Creek Trail beginning from the Sleeper Trailhead in Mountain View. Bring a jogging stroller for kids – parents will be running. Meet at the water fountain at the Sleeper Trailhead. For more information about the trail or directions, see The Stevens Creek Trail Page (http://www.strollerhikes.com/Hikes/StevensCreekTrail/StevensCreekTrail.html). If you’re running late, call Debbie at 650-776-1082.

Monday, September 13th at 11 am join Amy B. and her wee ones for a hike and picnic at Rancho San Antonio in Cupertino / Los Altos Hills off of Cristo Rey Drive, Cupertino. We’ll do an almost entirely paved, flat path or a hilly, packed dirt route, depending on who attends. Both trails will go to the farm, and maybe past it. Any baby transport will work, and bikes or trikes can be used on the flat route. Bring a picnic for your family. Meet at the main parking lot by the bathrooms(follow the entrance road to the right until it ends). For more information or directions, see the Rancho San Antonio Page (http://www.strollerhikes.com/Hikes/RanchoSanAntonio/ranchoSanAntonio.html). Sorry, dogs not allowed. This hike is at least half shaded. Call Amy at 408-368-7161 if you’re running late.

Tuesday, September 14th at 2 pm join Megan and her little one for a Stroller Hike at Sunnyvale Baylands Park. This trail is entirely paved, so any stroller will work! Meet next to the recycled water test garden (take a left after entering the park). For more information or directions, see The Baylands Page (http://www.strollerhikes.com/Hikes/BaylandsPark/BaylandsPark.html). The park charges a parking fee this time of year, if a ranger is present or the automatic payment kiosk is working. If you’d like to park for free, park at the baseball complex next door. If you’re running late, call Megan at 408-409-3206.

Tuesday, September 14th at 4:30 pm join Pippa and Ruth for a Toddler Trek at Shoreline Park in Mountain View/Palo Alto at 3070 N.Shoreline Blvd. We will be doing a short walk around the lake to the play structure. We’ll see lots of birds, and boats on the lake. We will be encouraging the little ones to walk, but if you want to bring a stroller, any kind should work as the trail is paved. Follow Shoreline Blvd all the way to the end, enter the park by the kiosk, and follow the road all the way to the end following signs for Lakeside Cafe. Meet in the car park by the cafe. Sorry, no dogs allowed. For information about the park and directions, see The Shoreline Park Page (http://www.strollerhikes.com/Hikes/Shoreline/Shoreline.html

) and Mountain View’s Shoreline Page (http://www.ci.mtnview.ca.us/city_hall/comm_services/shoreline_regional_wildlife_area/default.asp). If you’re running late, give Pippa a call at 510-621-7471.

Wednesday, September 15th at 9:15 am (new time!) we’ll hike at Rancho San Antonio in Cupertino/Los Altos Hills. We’ll do an almost entirely paved, flat path going to the farm, and possibly go past it. The road is perfect for trikes or bikes, if toddlers or young children want to ride. Any baby transport will work. Meet at the bathrooms in the main parking lot (follow the park road right and all the way down the hill). For more information or directions, see the Rancho San Antonio Page (http://www.strollerhikes.com/Hikes/RanchoSanAntonio/ranchoSanAntonio.html). Sorry, dogs not allowed. This hike is at least half shaded. Lisa, Samuel, and little Shira will lead this hike. If you’re running late, call Lisa at 650-892-8678.

Thursday, September 16th at 4:30 pm join Debbie, little Max, and wee Holly for a Toddler Trek at Alum Rock Park in San Jose. We’ll explore the old mineral springs area of the park, checking out the trickles of water that lead to the creek. Meet by the YSI building (drive well into the park and follow signs). All types of strollers will work. For directions or more information about the area, see The Alum Rock Park Page (http://www.strollerhikes.com/Hikes/AlumRock/AlumRock.html). If you’re running late, call Debbie at 650-776-1082.

Friday, September 17th at 9:30 am join Melissa and Maxwell for a hike at Stevens Creek Trail beginning from Creekside Park at Easy Street in Mountain View. Any stroller or carrier will work; the path is a lovely two-lane paved one. We’ll have the option of walking towards the bay or towards the hills (the trail has been extended through Mountain View). For the bay direction, the first and last quarter of this hike is well shaded, and we hope to have some bay breezes, in case it’s warm. For the hill direction, the trail is shaded for the majority of the hike. For more information about the trail or directions, see The Stevens Creek Trail Webpage (http://www.strollerhikes.com/Hikes/StevensCreekTrail/StevensCreekTrail.html). If you’re running late, call Melissa at 650-224-5461.

Saturday, September 18th at 10:30 am join Bike Buddies for a Family Friendly Bike Ride through downtown San Carlos. The ride will last up to an hour. For more information, see SanCarlosGreen.org’s Website (http://www.sancarlosgreen.org/home/bikebuddies.html).

Plan ahead:

Saturday, October 2nd from 11 am to 3 pm come out to Learn, Laugh, and Love at Family Day 2010, an annual celebration put together by Blossom Birth, Hand in Hand, and Stroller Hikes. This year’s event will be at the Downtown Community Center at All Saints Episcopal Church, 555 Waverly Street in Palo Alto (just off of University Street Downtown). Enjoy FREE fun for ALL ages, including little babies and pregnant mamas! Featuring live music by Andy Z, Michal the Milkman ice cream (yes, free ice cream!), Stroller Hikes’ obstacle course, carnival games, crafts, baby ball pit, raffle, and more! Over 20 local pregnancy and new parent community providers will be onsite to share information and provide resources for your growing family! Free workshops including infant massage and facilitated parent-child pillow play. Co-sponsored by All Saint’s Episcopal Church, Sports Basement, Whole Child Wellness, and Peninsula Pediatric Dentistry. For details or to buy raffle tickets, call 650-321-2326 or email blossom@blossombirth.org.

Stroller Hikes has partnered up with Baby Boot Camp! Tuesday, October 5th, at 11:15 AM come out for a FREE demo day with Baby Boot Camp, FREE for everyone at Red Morton Park, 1120 Roosevelt Avenue, Redwood City, CA (park near the soccer field). Did I mention it’s FREE? Wear good shoes and be ready to get that blood pumping! Baby Boot Camp is a great option if you’re looking for a cardiovascular and strength training workout with other parents. Bring baby in a stroller (jogging stroller preferred), water, and a mat for laying on the grass. Baby Boot Camp instructors will provide everything else. Baby Boot Camp is all about getting moms or pregnant moms-to-be in shape in a fun, dynamic way, with a balance of aerobic work and resistance-based weight training. Baby Boot Camp sessions usually last for about 75 minutes, and Baby Boot Camp is offered all over the Bay Area, including Redwood City, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, and Santa Cruz. You can learn more about Baby Boot Camp at BabyBootCamp.com, but this event is a unique one through Stroller Hikes!

Enjoy that hands-on nature and family time!

-Debbie, Max, and wee Holly

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